Freedom to Teach, Freedom to Learn: A Year at Mission Hill

Teachers' Letters to Bill Gates

Chapter 5: The Eye of the Dragon

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As we saw in chapter three of A Year At Mission Hill, knowledge and skills are taught – in part – through school wide themes, which involve the community.  At the beginning of the school year, the students at Mission Hill learned all about honeybees.  In chapter 5, ancient China is the focus of the school’s Long Ago and Far Away theme. Mission Hill is a K-8 public school in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, MA (note: since filming, the school has relocated to Jamaica Plain).

Creative thinking is a cornerstone of Mission Hill’s teaching philosophy.  You will see children painting masks, writing Chinese characters, dancing to live Chinese music and making dumplings. You will hear a teacher discuss with colleagues her students’ difficulty in interpreting proverbs.  Another teacher, fielding questions from a small group of students, instructs a boy to find…

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Freedom to Teach, Freedom to Learn: A Year at Mission Hill

Teachers' Letters to Bill Gates

Chapter 4: Love and Limits

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Chapter 4 of A Year At Mission Hill gave me anxiety.  As a teacher of ELLs (English-language learners), some of whom have significant special needs, I pictured myself trying to teach NYS and NYC Common Core curricula (test prep) to the group of special needs students profiled in this short chapter.  One of my biggest challenges is trying to keep my cool in this climate of high stakes testing. The pressure to show progress – via test scores – of our SWDs (students with disabilities) and ELLs while simultaneously giving each student what he/she TRULY needs, both emotionally and academically, is very palpable.  I spend most of each school day trying to loosen the knot in my stomach.

Mission Hill is a K-8 public school in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, MA (note: since filming, the school has relocated to Jamaica Plain).  It is a…

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Freedom to Teach, Freedom to Learn: A Year At Mission Hill

Teachers' Letters to Bill Gates

Chapter 3: Making it Real

Dear readers,

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I watched chapter three of A Year At Mission Hill with a heavy heart, almost tearful.  The way in which educators teach and students learn at Mission Hill is exactly what I’ve viscerally yearned for in a school community, long before the words Common Core were ever uttered. Mission Hill is a K-8 public school in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, MA (note: since filming, the school has relocated to Jamaica Plain).

Mission Hill’s staff meets at the end of the summer to develop curricula that support the school’s philosophy; ideals such as kindness, meaningful work and caring for the land are infused into lessons. Together they came up with the first school wide theme of the year: honeybees.  As you will see in this short chapter, students across all grades developed a wide range of important skills centered on this natural science…

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Beginning the School Year: Building a Strong Social and Emotional Foundation

Teachers' Letters to Bill Gates

Freedom to Teach, Freedom to Learn: A Year at Mission Hill

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Chapter 2: Beginning the Year

Dear readers,

As you will see in chapter two of A Year at Mission Hill, at the beginning of the school year the teachers devote a great deal of time and effort on building the social and emotional foundation for the school year. Mission Hill is a K-8 public school in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston (note: since filming, the school has relocated to Jamaica Plain). The school’s student body – 170 enrolled – is a microcosm of Boston’s diversity.

Fostering creativity and community are cornerstones of the school’s philosophy. Students at Mission Hill are treated as citizens and participate in the decision-making process with regards to their education. They have a REAL voice, and teachers are given the autonomy and freedom to cultivate this type of learning.

After watching chapter two

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Freedom to Teach, Freedom to Learn: A Year at Mission Hill

Teachers' Letters to Bill Gates

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Dear readers,

A Year at Mission Hill is an exciting 10-part video series that captures the stories of a single K-8 school community in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, MA (Note: since filming, the school has moved to Jamaica Plain). Each week we will post one short chapter from the internet series followed by a question for you to answer in a letter to Bill Gates.

We want Mr. Gates to know what a TRULY successful public school looks like, and how his funding of corporate education reform is threatening the powerful teaching and meaningful learning that is taking place at this dynamic Boston public school. Ultimately, we are calling into question corporate education reform’s claim that schools are “failing.”

Chapter 1: Why We’re Here

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After watching chapter 1, what struck you most about the school environment at Mission Hill? How does it compare to the climate at your…

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